Archives

Is the Wisconsin company microchipping employees a fulfillment of the Mark of the Beast?

Prophecy is so important to the Christian. We are supposed to take comfort and encouragement in it. God is sovereign, therefore He has the ability and the right to ordain history beforehand, and He does. Then in His grace and mercy He gave us knowledge of what will happen. We rejoice in knowing He will bring all He has said to pass. (Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35).

Sadly, Prophecy as a field of study has gotten a bad reputation. One reason is that it is rife with the unstable who make unbiblical date-driven predictions. Another reason is that some passages are admittedly difficult and the unstable go astray when preaching them. These passages are not impossible to understand, because the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible for our edification and He helps us interpret it. However, prophetic passages do take some deep study. When someone unstable preaches on eschatology, the passages are twisted and the sheep gain a misunderstanding instead of illumination (and the goats too)..

Prophecy is important because it informs our holiness and behavior. As Pastor Mike Abendroth said,

“Prophecy drives behavior. There are ethical implications to all eschatology. Those that study eschatology the most in my opinion ought to be the most holy, because they are so pondering the return of Christ.” ~Pastor Mike Abendroth, Bethlehem Bible Church/No Compromise Radio

There is a particular passage of scripture that is well-known to even the unsaved, and that regards the Mark of the Beast and his number of 666. Revelation 13:11-18 outlines what this is.

Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

The Second Beast is the False Prophet. At the time of the Tribulation when the Church is taken out of the world and Jesus hurls His stored-up wrath on Israel and the pagans, the Antichrist will rise. The UNholy trinity will be Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the devil himself, satan. These three will appear to be the blessed trinity, they’ll perform signs and wonders, deceive the whole world, and then once they have the people in the palm of their hand, they will force all to worship the Antichrist by receiving this mark on their hand or forehead. The Mark of the Beast is a mark of allegiance and worship.

Those who refuse to accept the mark will be unable to buy or sell, and so in effect, be starved or out in the cold so they’ll die, if the antichrist doesn’t catch them and behead them first.

Since the Mark is on the hand or forehead, and since it involves a number, and since it will be something that is trackable at points of sale, many have speculated that the Mark will be a chip-like piece of technology.

Normally, discussing the antichrist and his mark retains a whiff of unsavoriness due to these passages being mishandled so often. Worse, newspaper exegesis causes teachers to go off the rails. Newspaper exegesis is preaching prophecy from the news and not the Bible. We saw a lot of this with the Blood Moons. We will probably see this with the upcoming Eclipse.

However this week Dr Al Mohler remarked about microchipping and the Mark of the Beast on his cultural news and Bible program The Briefing. The mark of the beast was in the news. A Wisconsin company began microchipping its employees, and apparently the program is voluntary (for now). Legal and ethical implications abound, but also prophetic implications, all of which were discussed on Mohler’s program. Here are several brief excerpts from the Mohler segment with my own comments interspersed:

If you’re a Christian familiar with the Scriptures, then no doubt another dimension of this question is coming to your mind. It’s come to the mind of others, including interestingly enough USA Today. In yesterday’s international edition of USA Today, there is a story by Holly Meyer. It asks the question, is this the mark of the beast? As she writes,

“The apocalyptic “mark of the beast” prophecy in the Bible makes some wary of a Wisconsin company’s recent decision to embed microchips into the hands of willing employees. The end times account,” she writes, “in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation warns believers about being marked on the right hand and the forehead by the Antichrist.” But she says, “inserting rice-sized microchips under the skin of Three Square Market employees does not fulfill the prophecy.”

The mark is actually enforced by the False Prophet, not the antichrist, but close enough for secular people. Interesting that they know both the mark, his number, and of the antichrist himself. The Mark is a deliberate mark of worship. When the False Prophet causes all to take the mark, they know what it is for and why they are taking it. The enticement is being able to buy and sell, but it is first and foremost a Mark of the allegiance to the Beast, and it’s going to be offered to the whole world, not just 40 employees in Wisconsin. We are not in the times outlined by Revelation now. So the issue fails on those three accounts as far as being a “fulfillment” of the aforementioned prophecy. Continuing with Mohler:

The USA Today story goes back to Proffesor Vlachos who said,”Taking the mark goes hand in hand with the conscience decision of publicly pledging one’s allegiance or loyalty to the beast and worshiping his image.” He went on to say that, “The mark is not a random number either. It always names the Antichrist, either numerically or alphabetically.” The professor says to his students, “No name, no worries.”

A similar kind of assessment came in the USA Today story by Randall Balmer, chair of the religion department at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He said that many evangelicals look to that book and current events in terms of something like a parlor game. But even as Balmer seemed initially to dismiss the speculation, he went on to say that he understood why people might connect the micro-chipping and the prophecy from the book of Revelation. “It may not be the ‘mark of the beast,’ but it certainly is a slippery slope.’ He went on to say, “I think we should be cautious about allowing that measure of control or surveillance into our lives.”

The last days of the last days all takes place within 7 years. There is a massive amount of prophecy that will unfold within that very short time. It could be said that the last 6000 years has been laying the infrastructure for those last 7. I agree that the microchipping is a slippery slope. The technology that will be used in those short, last 7 years is present on earth now and further, the minds and hearts of people on earth are being prepared to use it. After the rapture it’ll all come together quickly. Dr Mohler concluded-

But at the same time, there’s something truly haunting about the idea of a company embedding an RFID chip under the skin of an employee’s hand. We’re told, of course, that the company will not be able to track the employee, but we also understand just how quickly this kind of technology can go from a matter promised as a convenience to a matter coerced as an absolute necessity. 

… It also tells us something that this particular story landed on the front page of USA Today, the book of Revelation, the antichrist, and the beast on the front page of USA Today, even in its international edition as read here in Europe. It at least should be noted that even in this very secular culture there are those who immediately are asking the same question. Is this chip the mark of the beast? That tells us that even secular people still hear the distant hoof beats of the horsemen from the book of Revelation.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m so glad that this issue is being directly addressed, and in both a scriptural and poignant way, too. Dr Mohler said in his article that no, this is not the mark of the beast, but it is haunting. It’s haunting in my opinion because of the conscious decision of many future millions to consign themselves to eternal destruction the moment they raise their hand to worship the beast and not Christ.

It’s also haunting that the pagan world is so spooked and unnerved by this prophecy. Deep down, with eternity in their hearts, they know that wrath for sin is coming. In a dark, closed cupboard of their mind, they are aware of the prophecies and keep that door firmly shut…until an article like this comes along and they lose their atheistic composure. That’s why when a false teacher teaches a date-driven prophecy related to prophecy, they mock and scorn when it doesn’t come to pass, comforting themselves that it won’t happen at all. (2 Peter 3:4; Matthew 24:48). When prophecy becomes fodder for jokes or badly made movies, they comfort themselves that it is just fiction. (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

Please be the Christian like the ones mentioned by Pastor Abendroth: let prophecy inform your behavior and inspire you (and me) to urgency. We have to read prophecy in the first place, and then pray for wisdom and understanding to is grows us on proper holiness. Because, prophecy is important, even the strange and difficult passages like the ones mentioned in Revelation. Especially those.

mark_of_the_beast

Royal Dutch Airlines Unleashes The Single Stupidest Gay Pride Ad Of All Time

Daily Wire remarked on the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ Gay “Pride” ad campaign with this headline:

Royal Dutch Airlines Unleashes The Single Stupidest Gay Pride Ad Of All Time

In its desire to placate the sexual political correctness running rampant in advertising lately, Royal Dutch Airlines has just condemned all same-sex couples to death, propounding the idea that any kind of seatbelt arrangement suits the airline just fine:

click
The article above continued with Twitter screen shots of hilarity and mockery.

I loved this man’s Facebook comment to the above:

click2

I said the same on Twitter. The boy-boy belt won’t work, and the girl-girl belt won’t work. Only the boy-girl belt will “click.” You can paint the strap rainbow but…

So self-refutation indeed. Anyway, last time I checked, seat belts still needed a male and a female part to “click” , and homosexuality was still a sin.

Some more Pre-Trib comfort

Once again I’m presenting comfort in the hope of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

At a certain point in earth’s history to come, it is promised to us that Jesus will lift His church composed of Christians dead and alive, into heaven to be with Him. Then he will hurl His stored-up wrath upon earth to punish the unbelieving nation Israel, and the sinful Gentile world. Some people say there will be no rapture at all. Others say that it will happen at the end of or in the middle of the time of wrath (AKA the Tribulation, or Time of Jacob’s Trouble). Since the rapture is in the Bible, and since it is a single even that is promised to occur, it can’t happen both before the Tribulation and at the end. Therefore one of those positions is right and one of them is wrong.

It is correct to interpret that the Bible teaches that the rapture will happen before Jesus begins the last days punishments. Paul taught this in his treatment of the subject in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians 15:42-57, it’s in Revelation, as well as being taught implicitly throughout other books of the Bible.

The event is supposed to be a hope to believers, and an encouragement, said Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:18. When you look around the dark world with its sin and evil, take hope in the knowledge that Jesus has a plan. His plan includes filling a quota for His Church (Romans 11:25). When that occurs, He will remove His Bride from the wrath, because we are not appointed to it. (Revelation 3:10). We will appear before His Bema seat to receive rewards for our service to Him while we were on earth, (2 Corinthians 5:10), and then enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7–10). Meanwhile on earth, the Tribulation will have begun.

You will hear these things mentioned in the 19-minute video below. Enjoy! Be encouraged!

FMI:

11 Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation rapture

Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation rapture

Old Testament Prophets: Resources for you!

The OT is full of marvelous poetry, wisdom, history, narrative accounts, and of course, prophecy, like the prophecy above from Isaiah. As we know from the Bible, all scripture is profitable for correction, education and reproof. But sometimes the prophecies, which are embedded within ancient history, and sometimes use highly figurative or symbolic language, can be a challenge to read, understand and interpret.

I’d like to first encourage you all by saying that we have THE interpreter available to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. If you pray and ask for wisdom when reading the scriptures, it will be added to you without reproach. (James 1:5).

The prophetic books can be a challenge though, and there is no problem whatsoever in consulting commentaries, historical books, or sermons from the greats that came before us. The Holy Spirit raised them up to inspire their generation and the generations after, namely, us. So don’t feel inhibited if after reading some passages that challenge you, and after prayer and your own study, in seeking good resources. To that end, here are a few suggestions if you are feeling intimidated by some of the less well-known prophetic OT books.

Pastor-Teacher Mark McAndrew is pastor of North Avenue Church, Athens GA. He is my pastor and this is my church. Mark is uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit, especially for someone so young, to possess such deep insights of the entire Bible. He teaches Bible to High School students at a Christian Academy as well as a Bible class in the public school system (after hours and off campus). He also substitute preaches at a large, local Baptist Church. (He’s busy!). He spent many months going through Genesis almost verse-by-verse and he recently began going through the minor prophet book of Micah. I can confidently recommend our pastor to you for Old Testament preaching as a solid resource (and also NT of course!)

Micah 1: Learning to Read the Old Testament Prophets
Micah 2-3: Learning to Read the Old Testament Prophets (Part 2)

Dr. James Montgomery Boice has preached through almost all of the Old Testament prophets (of course many other books too). His simple, clear preaching carries the listener along in ancient days when the prophets lived and preached. You can hear him at The Bible Study Hour. Want to hear about Daniel? Habakkuk? Haggai? Other Minor or Major Prophets rarely preached on? All of his series are here. They are trustworthy.

Dr. John MacArthur is known for his Holy Spirit supported feat of preaching through every verse in the New Testament. It took him 42 consecutive years, beginning in 1969 and concluding with Mark in June 2011. Though he has not preached through OT books, he has substantively preached from many of them, notably Daniel and Isaiah. On the right is a list that is available of sermons from the Old Testament prophets (and other books) from John MacArthur. The sermons are transcribed, too, so you can follow along in print, print them out or download the sermon itself for later listening. The OT books covered by MacArthur are listed to the right. They are trustworthy materials, here.

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson is an excellent teacher of all texts and preached much of his career at Believer’s Chapel in Dallas TX. His sermons were recorded and remain free and open to the public. His sermons were also transcribed, so you can follow along or print them out if you desire. Many of the OT prophets are exposited through his calm and reassuring teachings, here.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached 133 sermons from the Old Testament thorough his fruitful career, many of those from the prophets. The list of MLJ’s Old Testament sermons is to the left. They can be found here. You can also search for his sermons by book.

Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world. His ministry is called Truth for Life, and his simple, clear teaching is always a joy to listen to. The British accent doesn’t hurt, either 😉 He can be heard here, and in addition to many of the prophetic books, Pastor Begg also has preached from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations, books that also do not get a lot of love or attention. His OT list on on the right.

So I hope that helps for a list of credible sermons from the OT books, the prophetic books particularly. They can be challenging, but they are so worthwhile. As Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in his sermon ‘Christ in the Old Testament,

The Old Testament was Christ’s Bible, and it is a Bible full of Christ.”

Enough said!

Oliver B. Greene on the pre-tribulation rapture

 
(This essay first appeared on The End Time on July 10, 2014.)

Oliver B. Greene published a wonderful verse-by-verse exposition of Daniel in 1964. I’ve enjoyed reading it, because the book of Daniel is so hard for me to interpret. I was struck by Mr Green’s certainty and fervency regarding the pre-tribulation rapture.

A Pre-Trib rapture is biblically correct. The rapture itself has been in the bible all along, notwithstanding assertions that it was a made-up doctrine from the 1800s. And the rapture’s timing happening prior to the Tribulation has always been biblically evident too. It was only lately that man began to shy away from the clear teaching of this and muddy the waters to the extent that people now are hesitant to be dogmatic about it- so much so that they think they are being pious to show uncertainty. Look at Mr Greene’s statement on the subject (I kept his exact emphases):

The Great Tribulation has nothing to do with the church; the Church will not enter or go through any part of that terrible time. Any preacher or teacher who suggests that the bride of Christ will be subjected to any part of the reign of the Antichrist is definitely wrongly dividing the Word of Truth. God pity the preacher who will accuse Jesus of allowing the Antichrist to reign over His bride-and the Church IS the bride of Christ!

We have the blessed promise, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10).

In the writings of Paul we are promised. “For God hath not appointed us to WRATH, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:9). The Great Tribulation has to do with the nation of Israel, not with the Church.

If the Church were to enter or go through any part of the tribulation, believers would be commanded to watch for Antichrist, not for THE CHRIST. We would be commanded to watch for the great tribulation, not to wait for God’s Son from heaven. (1 Thess. 1:10).

Preaching in Jesus’ name

Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand” (Jeremiah 11:21).

and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. (Acts 5:40).

The name of Jesus Christ is extremely powerful. I’m not talking that it’s powerful like a magic charm, or a mantra, or a mystical incantation. His name is powerful because Jesus is the most powerful person in the Universe, because He sustains the world with His will, because He became the unique, one and only sacrifice for sin, died, and rose again defeating death.  He is the I AM. He is the Authority. It’s that simple.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

You can preach in any other name and the heart of the listener might or might not be emotionally or mentally affected. He might become emotional at a good speech delivery. She might feel temporarily joyful or sad but that burns off because an emotional reaction it doesn’t reach the soul. Only the word of God can affect the soul, and the only name in which we preach the true word is Jesus.

When the words affect the soul, the reaction has staying power, whether it’s to cause the person to retreat further into sin, or to convert under grace.

In the New Testament we know that the party opposing Jesus (Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) hated the name of Jesus. They hated His teachings, His disciples, His power, His authority, His resurrection. They thought they had authority, but they did not.

Pilate thought he had power and authority. He did not know that his authority was not his own, but was from above.

So Pilate said to Him, “Do You refuse to speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You and authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:10-11)

Jesus’ name has power. Not because it’s a magic mantra. But because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. He is the ultimate authority over men. And men’s souls sense this. We rebel against authority. We fight authority but authority always wins, sang John Cougar Mellencamp in his “The Authority Song”. We been doin’ it since we were young mean and we come out grinnin’.

We think it’s funny to rebel against parents, teachers, employers, police, the law, the government. But who we’re really rebelling against is God and God alone. He is the authority and He gives His authority to parents, teachers, employers, police, the law, the government. However, He retains sole claim to all authority and dispenses it to whom He desires. That is why when we rebel it is against Him and Him alone. (Psalm 51:4).

The authority of the name of Jesus calls for men’s submission to that name, but in our sinful state we protect our rebellion instead of submit to authority. We are rebels, sinning at every turn and hating those who tell us to stop.

Fortunately, Jesus’ name does have power. Without His power, we would never be saved. Jesus lived a perfect and holy life under the Law. He fulfilled every bit of it, and was crucified unjustly. He took on all man’s sins and endured God’s wrath for that sin. He died and was buried.

Three days later He rose again victorious over death!

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Vainly attempting to grasp our rebellion against authority, or foolishly trying to keep whatever scraps of authority we think we have, will always end in one moment, one act: bowing before Jesus and confessing Him as Lord. It’s better to submit to His authority now and be adopted as son and friend, than to have confess to Him as a rebel.

Munkacsy_-_Christ_in_front_of_Pilate
With apologies to artist Mihály Munkácsy, “Christ before Pilate, 1881

God is faithful to his Gospel

The Great Tribulation is a time prophesied to occur in the future, where God will pour out His stored-up wrath on the unbelieving world, and onto Israel. The church will have been raptured prior to the beginning of this 7-year period. (Revelation 3:10). The church is not under wrath, but our sins have been forgiven. In us there is no condemnation, that’s why we will be removed beforehand.

The Tribulation is not the general time between His first and second comings where believers will have the promised trials and persecutions. The tribulation is a distinct time referenced as THE Tribulation. It will exist for a set purpose, certain things will happen in an progressive fashion (as prophesied in Revelation 6-18 and elsewhere) and it will cease at its end to usher in a 1000 year kingdom on earth of peace where Jesus walks and reigns with His people. (Revelation 20:2-7, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, Daniel 9:24-27, Matthew 24:3-28…)

During this Tribulation, it will be a hell on earth, literally. The abyss is opened and many chained up demons are let out to wreak havoc. (Revelation 9:1-12). It’s a time when God’s 4 sorest judgments will occur. He releases 4 horsemen to have their fill of death and chaos and sin and evil wrought upon the people. It will be a time of punishment, vengeance, retribution, and wrath. Many millions upon billions die. (Revelation 6:8, Revelation 9:15).

Before I get to my main point, let’s turn aside for a comment. People incorrectly view the God of the Bible as a split personality. There’s the God of the Old Testament who is wrathful, and the Jesus of the New Testament who is nice. Jesus “hung out with sinners” and spoke the Beatitudes, after all.

God is God and He changeth not. In the OT He rendered wrath, but He was also compassionate and kind. I can give many examples. He spoke gently to Hagar in the wilderness. He sent angels to feed and comfort Elijah. He answered Habakkuk’s complaints gently. He gave Hannah the son she prayed for. He spoke to Moses as a friend. And so on.

In the NT, God is kind but He is also wrath. Wrath is mentioned many times in the NT. It’s mentioned in Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, Hebrews, and most of all, 11 times in Revelation, where Jesus is rendering it or ordering His angels to deliver it. If you read the Jesus of Revelation, there exists no sissified, needy Jesus at all. He never existed. THAT Jesus is a figment of man’s imagination.

Now to the point, despite the horrors of The Tribulation, despite the wrath and death and chaos and sin, God still seeks souls. He saves. He saves many, multitudes one cannot number! They are saved from every language and nation and tribe and tongue! His grace abounds even in wrath.

By what process does He save?

1. His Two Prophets. Their story is contained in a Revelation 11:3-13. Their ministry begins:

And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.

They preach in Jerusalem and according to prophecy, it’s for a set number of days. People will try to kill them. Those who hate the LORD will hate their message of sin and wrath and judgment. But while they are prophesying God’s word on earth during the allotted number of days, nothing can harm them. As a matter of fact, they can spew fire and kill those who try to kill them. (Revelation 11:5). When the allotted number of days is up, they will be successfully killed. (Revelation 11:7). Their bodies will lie in the street for three days, and the world rejoices that their devastating message will have been silenced, or so the world thinks. They are resurrected and ascend to heaven before the world’s astonished face. (Revelation 11:11-12).

The result is that for 1,260 days the world hears two indestructible witnesses preach the everlasting gospel to the world, whether they want it or not.

The 144,000.

Their story is contained in Revelation 7:3-8 and Revelation 14:1-5. God plucks 12,000 from each Jewish Tribe as His firstfruits of Gospel salvation in their Messiah. Though none of the verses explicitly say that the men from the 144,000 evangelize, it’s highly likely that they are agents of the Gospel. The fact that they are chosen, sealed from harm during the judgments indicates that they have work to do. One’s relief and joy in Christ always yields a loosened tongue to proclaim His glories. How much more so in the Wrath? Also, the very next scene after they are saved and sealed, we see multitudes of redeemed from the earth. Imagine 144,000 Apostle Pauls running around, lol. People are going to be saved.

The Three Angels at Midheaven.

Their story is in Revelation 14:6-11, but the first angel in verses 6-7 is the one who proclaims the eternal Gospel to the entire world, every nation, tongue, tribe, and people.  Every. One. Hears.

What a God we serve! He pursues even as He concludes the last moments of His Age.

ecclesiastes